N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
‘Half of humanity is in danger zone. No country escapes. Yet we remain addicted to fossil fuels’, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the ministers of 40 countries, who met in Berlin on climate problems. According to him, the choice is simple: collective actin or collective suicide. But there is hardly any collective action these days. The climate seems to be a concern for later.
The situation in the EU is typical. EU leaders have only two concerns: how do they get to other fossil fuels as quickly as possible to replace Russian gas and how do they keep those fossil fuels affordable for their citizens. Those are two very legitimate concerns. The problem is that the solutions are detrimental to the climate. Russian gas is being replaced by dirtier alternatives. All over the EU, coal-fired power stations are once again operating at full. It threatens to erode EU’s ambitious Fit for 55 plan. The ambition to reduce emissions by 55 percent by 2030 still stands, but whether the member states will actually achieve that target is less certain. The EU likes to lead the way in the international climate debate, but is now quickly losing its moral authority.
Who will take the lead? Not US President J Biden. Nothing remains of his ambitious climate plans at the moment. Recently the Supreme Court knocked out one of the most important tools of it. Another problem is, Biden has no majority for it in the US Senate. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is back: ‘Most Americans don’t like Biden’s climate plans’. He is right. In a New York Times poll, just one percent put climate at the top of their priority list.
Antonio Guterres seems to be a lone voice crying in the wilderness. And that is a bad thing…